Hundreds of birds dead due to avian botulism in Firth of Thames, New Zealand #birds #AvianBotulism #NewZealand
Hundreds of dead birds are suspected to have been killed by an avian botulism outbreak near the Firth of Thames.
Fish and Game Auckland/Waikato southern game bird manager David Klee said they’d been informed on Wednesday about large amounts of dead birds being found alongside a drain near Waitakaruru.
To prevent the outbreak from spreading, Klee put an urgent call out for volunteers in the area and along with several other agencies conducted a mass clean-up operation on Friday, closing the nearby rail trail for the day.
The team of about 30 people collected about 800 dead birds across a 15km stretch, and managed to rescue six that were taken to NZ Bird Rescue in Green Bay.
“We’ve had some outbreaks in the wider area in the past but not in this drain, and it looks to be a pretty bad one.
“Those were just the birds we could find, but there are likely to have been a lot more killed as the outbreak might have been going for about three to four weeks, and we were just picking up what the scavengers have left.”
Courtesy of nzherald.co.nz
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The Provincial Council of Alava Vitoria and keep activated the protocol established to try to eradicate the possible outbreak of avian botulism that affects mainly the wetland Salburua in particular Arkaute the raft, and laying have already collected a total of 377 dead birds. It is expected that the final results from the reference laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Algete (Madrid) to confirm that it is an outbreak of avian botulism arrive this week.
Thousands Of Birds Dying From Outbreak Of Disease In Waikato, New Zealand
A suspected outbreak of avian botulism is killing thousands of birds in Waikato.
The disease, which causes paralysis in birds, has been recorded in Matamata-Piako District, Waipa District and Waikato District this summer.
There have also unconfirmed reports of bird deaths in the Hauraki District.
About 3000 birds are estimated to have died from the disease in the Waikato region, Fish & Game gamebird manager David Klee said. Along with game ducks, the bacteria was killing black swans, grey teals and the New Zealand dabchick, among others, he said. “It’s pretty indiscriminate, anything that sits on those ponds, seems to be affected.” Although blood samples had not been taken, Mr Klee said the bird deaths all showed “clinical symptoms” of botulism.
Affected birds were showing signs of paralysis, they were flightless and, in the critical stage, had “lolling” and “drooping” heads.
Most outbreaks were occurring at municipal wastewater treatment plants – and in particular older, less used, oxidation ponds.
“The problem is a lot of these ponds no longer have working aerators, they’re filling up with sludge at a great rate.
“Basically in summer, when these ponds get drawn down, you’ve got the perfect microclimate for botulism to occur.”
The drought-like weather may have also played a part in the outbreaks, Mr Klee said. “In years like this, when we’ve got long dry spells of weather it’s more likely to occur.”
Te Awamutu farmer Carl Webber has had to pick up dozens of dead birds from his paddocks, which surround the Te Awamutu wastewater treatment plant, this summer.
He said outbreaks happened every year but this year had been a bad one.
“It hasn’t been big, big numbers this year, but it has been consistent. The whole summer birds have been dying.”
He said up to 20 or 30 carcasses could be seen floating in the pond at any one time. “The [Waipa] council has to be more proactive,” he said.
The oxidation pond had been neglected and birds needed to be kept off it, he said.
More rainwater from within the catchment could also be directed into the pond, he said.
Manager of water services at Waipa District Council Lorraine Kendrick said the council was working with Fish & Game to prevent the spread of the disease. The council reported birds that were sick and dead to Fish & Game every fortnight, and dead birds were immediately retrieved and disposed of. “Anywhere there is a pond system you have the potential for this to occur. But at wastewater plants, nutrient levels are higher.”
The council tried to scare birds away from the disused oxidation pond by using a zon gun, which emitted noise, and employed a “shooter” to fire blanks at the site. The council was also looking at whether the pond could be redeveloped, she said.
Klee said the response of district councils has been mixed. “What we’ve found is that in areas where we have management plans in place with councils, we’ve been able to minimise outbreaks.”
Contractors trying to stop the spread of avian botulism in North Canterbury now estimate that 1000 birds have been killed.
Dead birds were discovered in oxidation ponds in Kaiapoi earlier in January and contractors are now removing carcasses to contain the outbreak.
Waimakariri District Council spokesperson Gerard Cleary said on Wednesday that the ponds are monitored several times a year in the Brooklands Lagoon area and the previous check on 6 January showed no evidence of the disease.
Mr Cleary said by Tuesday, there were about 1000 dead birds on pond banks and in the water, with a further 20 showing classic symptoms of avian botulism – lethargy and partial paralysis of the feet and wings.
The disease, which cannot be contracted by humans, is relatively common with several outbreaks in the greater Christchurch area in the past few years. However, this is the largest known outbreak at the Kaiapoi oxidation ponds, the council says.
The species most affected to date are: Paradise Shelduck, Black Swan, Mallard, Grey Teal and New Zealand Shoveler. The Kaiapoi ponds typically contain a total bird population of between 5000 and 6000 birds. The majority of these are currently moulting, which renders them flightless for a short period and thereby increases the risk of them contracting the disease.
Minimisation of the outbreaks consists of the removal and safe disposal of dead carcasses, which prevents the spread of the disease. The outbreak is unlikely to end completely until the arrival of cooler weather, with frosts breaking the re-generation cycle of the disease.